This blog is by Mercury Pro Team member Rob Endsley, an Alaska charter captain (princeofwalessportfishing.com), former river guide and host of the “Outdoor Line” radio show in Seattle, Washington. He can be found on Instagram @robendsley.
There’s an almost infinite number of ways one can prepare salmon, but the beauty of this fish is that you really don’t have to do much to bring out its gorgeous flavors for a meal that is both healthy and delicious.
One very simple way to capture the inherent deliciousness of this vibrantly colored fish is to grill it on a cedar plank. Doing so gives the fish a unique, smoky finish and provides a meal every bit as flavorful as one you’d find in a restaurant, and at a fraction of the price. And with the complexities of flavors created by the cedar, there’s no need to purchase a bunch of costly ingredients.
We eat a lot of salmon in our household, and while one of my favorite recipes is short on ingredients, it’s tall on flavor. The addition of a little salt, pepper and a little parsley is enough to complement the clean, smoky goodness created by the wood.
Simple Cedar Plank Salmon (Serves 4)
- Four 4 to 6 ounce salmon fillets
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Sea salt
- Fresh parsley
You’ll want to get started by pre-soaking your cedar planks in water overnight or at least several hours before you are ready to grill. This will prevent the planks from catching on fire on the grill. Pre-cut cedar planks for cooking can be ordered online or purchased at stores that carry outdoor gear.
Prepare the salmon by cutting the fillets into manageable serving sizes. I like to cut the fish into strips about 2 inches wide, cutting across the fillet from top to bottom. This allows the flavor to absorb deep into the salmon on all sides.
About 30 minutes before going on the grill, brush some olive oil on your salmon fillets and season them with crushed sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and parsley to taste. Remember, you only want to use enough seasonings to bring out the inherent flavors of the fish.
Next, pre-heat the grill to high heat. This will make the grill hot enough to char the cedar planks when they are placed onto it. Don’t worry about the smoke or burning the boards. That’s what makes the flavor. Be prepared for things to get smoky. In fact, smokiness is a sign that you’re doing things right. After all, it’s the smoke that is creating all that delicious flavor. Do keep in mind that some salmon, like Chinook, can be extremely high in omega-3 oils, and can catch on fire. For that reason, I recommend keeping a small spray bottle of water handy in the event that you need to douse out any small flames.
Place the planks on the grill prior to placing the salmon on them and close the lid. This will char the underside of the plank and release even more flavor. After a couple of minutes flip the cedar plank over and place the salmon on the charred side. Close the lid and let the salmon cook on the plank for around 5 to 7 minutes before checking it.
The salmon should turn from a translucent red color to pale pink as it is cooking. The best way to determine when your fish is ready to be removed from the grill is to use a sharp knife to peek into the thickest part of the fillet. If the meat begins to flake, but still has a little translucency in the middle, it is ready to be plated.
Now, all there is left to do is to pair it with a nice salad or vegetable, and perhaps some fresh bread, dig in and enjoy!